Two Israeli Arabs were indicted on Thursday for attempting to commit a terror attack at the Be Center hotel in the southern resort city of Eilat. The attack was thwarted thanks to the vigilance of hotel employees, who reported the suspicious behavior of one of the defendants.
The two Jerusalem residents, Khaleel Nimri and Ashraf Salaymeh, were charged with conspiring to aid the enemy in a time of war.
The two defendants have no prior record of security-related offenses and do not belong to any organization. Their plans were foiled in the initial stages, before they had the chance to obtain explosives or other arms.
The two, security officials claim, were influenced by the incitement on Hamas websites, but if the attack had gone ahead, it would not have been directly sanctioned by Hamas.
Nimri and Salaymeh met while they were working and living in Eilat. Two months ago, in the midst of the escalating tensions, the two decided to commit a terror attack against Jews, out of the desire to take revenge against the State of Israel, the indictment states.
Nimri also sought to avenge the death of his childhood friend Fadi Alloun, who was killed while committing a stabbing attack in Jerusalem in October.
According to the indictment, Nimri first suggested to commit a stabbing attack and kill a religious Jew. Salaymeh refused, claiming that they could get caught committing such an attack, which will make the effort meaningless in his eyes.
Salaymeh then suggested to plant explosives in one of the hotels in the city, a plan Khaleel agreed to. The two settled on Eilat's Be Center since it was a relatively small hotel with few people and a low level of security.
The two conducted surveillance of the Be Center hotel (also known as the Rio hotel) from the outside, monitoring a group of religious Jews staying there. One of the defendants even searched online for tutorial videos on how to build bombs.
Salaymeh also arrived at the hotel on November 30 in order to gather intelligence ahead of the attack. He pretended to be interested in renting out a room at the hotel for a long period of time, and on this pretense asked to see different rooms. One of the rooms that caught his eye, according to the indictment, was one located under the dining room.
Salaymeh asked the receptionist and the manager many questions that arose their suspicion, including how many entrances does the hotel have, what is the hotel's capacity, whether a group of religious Jews are expected at the hotel, ect.
The vigilant hotel employees reported the Salaymeh's suspicious questions to the hotel management and security, which led to the arrest of the two and the thwarting of their plan.